Carlin teammates Felipe Nasr and Rupert Svendsen–Cook shared the pole positions on offer for the British Formula Three Championship at Donington, the best of the field in a session that was flagged three minutes early.
The half hour session was predictably frenetic as times came down, Nasr's best lap 1:23.012 well inside the testing pace of the session on Thursday morning.
Svendsen-Cook, Jack Harvey, Jazeman Jaafar and Kevin Magnussen – all from the Carlin powerhouse – set the pace throughout the opening half of the session, Rockingham winner Scott Pye the only intruder into the rarefied territory at the top of the timesheets for Double R Racing – though he would end the session with only tenth fastest time.
Nasr, who was crowned champion after Rockingham, was having a quitter start to session, his times improving steadily, only briefly taking provisional pole after ten minutes of the session with a time that was promptly bested by Pye.
The constant exchange of pole times continued, time chipped away as the Carlin drivers moved further and further clear.
Nasr waited until inside the final ten minutes to strike the decisive blow, his lap taking away what would have been Jack Harvey's first pole position in his debut Formula Three season. Harvey looked capable of taking the position back, setting the best sector time in the first part of the Donington Park lap. However, before the Racing Steps Foundation backed driver could complete his lap the session was red flagged for Kotaro Sakurai's car on the inside of the Old Hairpin.
With just three minutes of the session remaining, and with other stricken Dallaras to collect – Fahmi Ilyas and Adderly Fong having spun of earlier – the session was ended early, though a half hour wait was necessary before Nasr was able to celebrate his pole position, and with it victory in the Sunoco Rolex 24 at Daytona Challenge.
“I had a strong car from the beginning of the session,” Nasr told The Checkered Flag after the celebrations, “but the yellow flags were ruining everyone's laps. At least I got one in, but I didn't get my best second which is a shame. I know I had the potential and the car to get both pole.”
He addressed the wait for confirmation of his position; “You never know – maybe you were in the lap and you didn't see the yellow flag, but I was fairly sure I was safe and at least it's now official.”
Harvey will line up second for the final race of the weekend, with Svendsen-Cook and Carlos Huertas on the second row. Svendsen-Cook will start the first race of the weekend from pole, by virtue of his second fastest time from the session, with Harvey again second. Magnussen will line up third and fifth for the two races.
“To be honest,” confessed Svendsen-Cook, “the balance was probably not as good as I had on Thursday but I had good confidence in the car still and obviously pole position is good, I'm really happy to have it. I could have had the double pole, I was two tenths up in the middle sector twice but there was yellow flag in the final sector, so I chose to back out.”
“I have to sort it out for this afternoon. I know the direction to go, to improve my feeling and we'll be in good shape. I want to win a race again. It's been a long time since Monza. The bonus is that we still had a really strong qualifying but we only used one set of tyres – I never pitted. A lot of drivers pitted so I'm sure it's going to be an advantage for later in the weekend with tyre wear.”
Double R drivers were the best of the rest. Pipo Derani will start Sunday afternoon's race from sixth, while Scott Pye's early pace will place him fifth for this afternoon's race. The third Double R driver for the weekend, GP3 champion Valtteri Bottas will start both race from seventh.